Fraser Health is still working to keep the lights on in the visitor and staff parking lots at Langley Memorial Hospital, after declaring the problem solved last week.
For several nights this spring, all or some of the parking lot lights died or failed to come on overnight.
This left nurses, doctors, staff, and late visitors heading to their cars in the darkness.
According to one staffer who didn’t want her name used, staff took to leaving in pairs and bringing flashlights in their purses.
After the Langley Advance Times contacted Fraser Health, a spokesperson said the problem was not linked to ongoing construction work for the new emergency room, and that the problem had been fixed.
Then on the night of May 17, the lights went out again, according to the hospital staffer.
“You take five steps out of the emergency doors, and you couldn’t see anything,” she said.
On May 19th, she said Fraser Health brought in generator lighting. However, she said that on the night of May 20th, only the ER parking lot and entry bay and the visitor parking lot were illuminated.
The back parking lot, mostly used by staff, “was black as midnight,” she said.
She had a security guard escort her to her car. Fraser Health has been offering to have security guards escort staff in the dark, but staff have complained that it took up to half an hour for guards to arrive if they had other emergencies to attend to in the hospital.
A Fraser Health spokesperson said additional security has been brought in, and the health authority has fixed at least part of the parking lot lighting issue.
“The staff parking lot has been rewired and is fully operational,” said a statement from Fraser Health. “We have two generator powered lights as back-up as a precaution. The main and emergency parking lots are also being supported by back-up generator powered lights.”
New permanent lighting is being installed in phases as part of the renovation, which includes redirecting a road and changing much of the main visitor parking lot.
Lighting will be installed in phases, with the first phase starting soon and the last to be completed along with the wrap up on the construction of the expanded ER in 2020.
The exact cause of the repeated blackouts, which Fraser Health previously said was unrelated to the construction work, has not yet been determined, said Fraser Health.
The problem drew criticism from the president of the BC Nurses Union.
“Nobody should have to walk alone in a dark parking lot,” said Christine Sorensen, noting that there have been assaults on nurses leaving or arriving at work in the past, including a carjacking on Vancouver Island.